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McDonald’s goes on hiring spree

Chain looked to hire 50,000 new workers for U.S. stores during national event

McDonald’s Corp. recruiters interviewed thousands of applicants Tuesday for jobs at the chain’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants as part of its National Hiring Day.

In Irving, Texas, dozens of applicants met with operators and managers as part of the hiring event, during which McDonald’s sought to hire 50,000 workers nationwide.

Jeffrey Smith, who started as a crew member in 1978 making shakes in Peoria, Ill., and now owns and operates McDonald’s in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, said he saw a large number of applicants and had hired at least five for his four stores before noon Tuesday.

“As our sales and transactions continue to increase, we need more employees,” he said.

Smith noted that McDonald’s new McCafe beverage line and expanded hours at some locations also were driving the need for workers.

McDonald’s said it was attempting to increase its domestic workforce from 650,000 people to 700,000 at the hiring event Tuesday. Around 1,200 workers were expected to be hired by the more than 300 McDonald’s units in North Texas.

Final numbers from Tuesday’s Hiring Day were not expected until next week because of the large number of franchisees participating, the company said.

In addition to growing its U.S. workforce, McDonald’s said it would use the hiring initiative to dispel the notion that a McJob was a dead-end career.

“It gives us an opportunity when we do an event like National Hiring Day for it to be more than, ‘McDonald’s is hiring,’ but, ‘McDonald’s has career opportunities,’” Chris Lyons, McDonald’s vice president of worldwide training and development, told NRN earlier this month. “Many of us started in the restaurants and have grown to run the business, and this is a great way to tell that story.”

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Joni Thomas Doolin, founder and chief executive of People Report, a Dallas-based human resources research firm, said that quick-service restaurants, like McDonald’s, provide jobs for a wide variety of workers.

“A company like McDonald’s can have a huge impact,” she said. “Quick-service jobs aren’t just for teenagers anymore. The median age of the non-management quick-service employees has risen to nearly 29 years.”

Doolin noted that the recession has led many teenagers to drop out of the workforce, increasing the median age of restaurant workers. “This is a dramatic piece of evidence of what this recession has done,” she said.

 The restaurant industry employs nearly 10 percent of the U.S. workforce, making it the nation’s second largest private-sector employer behind health care, according to the National Restaurant Association.

“The restaurant industry is not only an important source of jobs and careers, it is vitally important to the success of many other industries in the economy,” the NRA said in a release Tuesday.

The U.S. economy lost 266,000 jobs between January 2000 and February 2011, the NRA said. However, during those 11 years, eating-and-drinking places, which account for about three-quarters of the restaurant-and-foodservice workforce, added 1.3 million jobs. Overall, restaurant industry job growth outperformed the overall economy in each of the past 11 years, the NRA said.

The restaurant industry is projected to add 27,000 foodservice managers between 2011 and 2021, an increase of nearly 8 percent, the NRA added.

McDonald’s said about 30 percent of its executives started in the restaurants and more than 70 percent of managers had that background.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].

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